ISLANDERS at one of Scotland’s most iconic community buyouts will on Monday celebrate the completion of a 10-year project to open a new community and visitor hub.

The redeveloped An Laimhrig (Safe Harbour) on the Isle of Eigg will support 17 businesses/organisations and 29 island jobs.

Pandemic lockdowns, increased costs and numerous weather ­disruptions were overcome to ­complete the centre, which ­signals ­another huge step forward in ­continuing to revitalise the Isle of Eigg since the takeover in 1997.

The buyout was one of highest-profile community takeovers in ­Scotland, when 65 residents ­succeeded in ­taking control, after a rich history of colourful and ­controversial landlords such as Keith ­Schellenberg and the German artist Maruma.

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The redeveloped centre ­includes a larger grocery shop, a much bigger cafe and bar with amazing views, a craft shop and a base for Eigg Adventures. The first floor houses ­offices, hot-desking facilities and a meeting room.

In addition, an old ­agricultural building – the Green Shed – has been repurposed to provide office and workshop space for local businesses and the coastguard. A new biomass heating system has also been installed using Eigg’s locally produced wood fuel, and improvements to the island’s electricity and sewage infrastructure has future-proofed the development.

Completing the scheme is Taigh Nighe (Wash House) with public ­toilets, showers and laundry facilities.

The official opening ceremony tomorrow will be performed by the oldest and youngest ­residents on Eigg – Peggy Kirk (92) and nine-month-old Edith Merrick, supported by her mum Anna.

Ailsa Raeburn, chair of the Isle of Eigg ­Heritage Trust, said: “The opening by Peggy and Edith is a nod to the amazing progress the Eigg community has made since its buyout in 1997 and to the future.

“Eigg is bucking the trend of depopulation with the ­population having doubled since 1997 and a growing number of young people ­returning to or choosing to settle here. Having a fantastic facility like An Laimhrig will ensure we can keep on serving our community and ­visitors alike for the next 25 years.”

The project was in three phases with Eigg residents involved at every stage of the process. Many small island businesses and contractors helped deliver the project, led by ­Rebecca Long, development manager for the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.

She said the challenges of ­delivering such a significant project had not been under-estimated.

“Everybody understood the vision of employing as many local people as possible, ensuring as much of the ­project’s funding stayed on the island as possible – a concept that is core to the Trust’s vision of community wealth building,” she said.

“The lasting legacy of the project goes beyond the physical ­community assets created and includes new skills, confidence and capacity to take on ­future projects.”

She added: “We have been ­extremely fortunate to work with strong partners to deliver the project and specific thanks must go to WT Architecture, Morham & Brotchie, Fiona Begg and of course our contractors Compass Construction and Building Services.”

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The Scottish Government was a main funder with an investment of £1.2 million through the ­Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Planning Minister Joe ­Fitzpatrick said the centre was a valuable ­contribution to building the island’s economy, which was central to the ­vision for Eigg as a thriving place.

“An Laimhrig is an exciting ­example of a project with the needs of the community at its heart,” he said.

“It provides a vital focal point and, given its location at the ­harbour, ­ensures visitors can experience

Eigg’s vibrant culture, heritage and warm welcome as soon as they ­arrive.”

Other funders included the ­National Lottery Community Fund, Highland Council, Centrica, SSE and HIE.